Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Appliance Upheaval

Although I don't think there is anything wrong with it, I don't really enjoy the term "homemaker".  It kind of makes me cringe, just like in college when someone would hear that I could sew or that I made something they would often say, "you're so domesticated".  I think that word was referring to being house wife like and not like an animal, which is what I think of.  And in college I was barely domesticated, let me tell you.  And at the doctors office, when you report for your first appointment after finding out you are pregnant, they ask you a huge list of questions including your job.  Last time they asked and I said I didn't have one and the nurse said, "OK, homemaker then," and of course I had to blurt out what I used to do and what my education was and of course she didn't care and said, "OK, homemaker."  This conflict makes me think of the movie "Mona Lisa Smile", which deals with some college ladies at a prestigious institution in 1953, and how, although they were getting the best education they all were still bound by tradition and aspired for marriage and homemaking.


In this amusing scene, "Wellesley Girl" Betty, who gets married in the movie to the affluent young professional of her hearts desire (who turns out to be a dirtbag) is posing for a recruiting magazine spread showcasing how a Wellesley girl can study and still maintain her husband by cooking and cleaning and ironing his shirts.  There is a funnier one of her vacuuming in heels and reading the book while he sits in a chair and relaxes but the link didn't work. 

But, although no one wants to admit it, this homemaker thing is a very important job.  And I don't think it is reserved for only women anymore or women who don't have other jobs.  Someone has to do all this crap regardless of what else they do during they day.  And anyone who wears clothes and does laundry would be excited about this:
Check it! A new washing machine and dryer!  There was nothing wrong with our old ones but my parents got new ones and their old ones were nicer and fancier than what we had so now they live here.  Look at the high capacity drum on that front loader!  And the dryer has a light inside of it!

Look at all those settings and combinations!  The old one just had three temperatures and regular or permanent press (which, by the way, I don't really know what that means.  I gather that it is gentler than regular but not exactly delicate?)  Now if I could only learn to properly iron a man's dress shirt, which I actually never learned how to do.  Justin asks my help with that sometimes and I have to explain every time that modern education, even in family and consumer science class, doesn't involve maintaining a man anymore.

The old ones are in the garage until we decide what to do with them.   

Haha, did that startle you?  It's the season of severed deer heads!  Severed deer heads on cardboard on top of the old washer and dryer!  I got together with some women in my moms group that I attend at a church last night and this is a very common occurrence this time of year.  One woman had a whole deer hanging in her garage and another had two heads in their deep freezer. 
And the laundry room isn't the only place with new excitement: 

We got a new TV in the living room (it has the Internet...yeaaaah Netflix!) so the old one is in our room now.  I have never had a TV in my bedroom in my life except for one year in my college dorm room and the summer I lived at AGR.   So now I can sneak away from "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" and watch the news in the morning while pretending I am "putting stuff away".  It was hard to lose the clutter catching surface of that dresser but that's OK I guess.  And it can still hold smaller clutter, which of course I moved for the picture! 

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow, and hopefully at this time tomorrow morning I am enjoying a morning sugar soda (I make an exception to my rules and enjoy drinking full calorie pop on holidays) and watching the Macy's parade until someone gets annoyed with all the bland commentary and show tunes and takes over the TV to watch sports.   I saw this cute vintage photo on the Internet and thought I would share it in honor of Thanksgiving:

If Allan was around a turkey being prepared he would be doing the same thing. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Early Signs of the Holidays

I think everyone has some sort of evocative sensory experience that they associate with the holidays.  I have many of these and not just for the holidays but all year.  But ESPECIALLY for the holidays.  I am a sensory kind of lady!  They include the standards of the smell of Thanksgiving dinner and delicious cookies baking and of pine tree even though my family had a fake tree for most of my youth and now we have one in my own house.  They also include the more obscure, such as the smell of a bonfire as my dad burns all the wrapping paper on Christmas afternoon at the farm and the smells of grills and cinnamon (gross) liquor at tailgating because the last several years football playoff games have taken over the month of December. 
Another sensory experience that I associate with the kickoff of the holiday season, a regular mid-November get together that often happens in conjunction with deer hunting, is the smell of huge pots filled with thirty pounds of potatoes boiling on the burners, which will later be rolled flat and grilled at 450 degrees.  If you are from where I am from you guessed it...lefse! 
Lefse is a standard old fashioned Norwegian food that, after spending a few months in Norway, I learned is not really standard for modern Norwegians anymore.  At least not the way we eat it.  You could buy hot dogs at street vendors with a piece of lefse wrapped around the which was pretty weird but good.  But for Norwegian Americans far removed from the old days a Thanksgiving and Christmas without it just wouldn't be the same. 
My grandma on my mom's side came from a family of 14 kids, nine of which were girls.  When I was a child these ladies (most of them) would get together every fall and have a day of lefse making.  They sometimes even used a church kitchen for maximum space.  As I was older and in college, my grandma and one of my great aunts would come to our house and have a smaller scale operation.  When my grandpa was living even he would help.  I can still picture him sitting at the corner of the kitchen table at the grill with his turning stick.  I can't remember a time when I didn't witness lefse being made though.  Even when my family lived far away from my grandparents and the heavy concentration of Norwegians in ND and MN my mom still prepared some for us to eat at our small holiday celebrations (my dad's engineering job sometimes required him being on call) and we helped even as little kids in preschool.  I was practically born operating a rolling pin! watch me now you would never guess...
Last Saturday, on Tessa's birthday, my grandma came over and we (and by we I mean not me) set up the necessary equipment and got to work. 

What you see here is the layers of cloths and towels used to keep the lefse warm while waiting to be stored.  It needs to cool slowly so it stays soft.  You can't see it but there is a layer of plastic in there too .

Here is my grandma, preparing a batch of potato mix.  That container by the window is flour, which is important for the potatoes and also to prevent sticking while rolling.  Apparently the kind of flour matters and it is important to use good quality flour like the ND Mill flour and not any crap like Great Value flour from Walmart.  It's a good thing I didn't prepare any of these potatoes because that is exactly what is in my cupboard right now!  I also have Walmart brand sugar.  Please don't tell any of my sugar beet growing friends!  I think that is a sign that I am not ready to take on any major holiday food preparation tasks.
Hmmmm...Properly chilled lefse potato mix...
Time to get the aprons on!

My mom made that apron for each of my grandmas back in the early 80s to tell them they were going to be grandmas!  Now she's the grandma! 

I wore the evil eyed MN Loon apron. 
Here is a lovely example of a nicely rolled out piece of lefse.  It is almost perfectly round. 

Such lovely work could only have been done by one person named my grandma. I actually didn't roll any myself.  I was a grill tender and a mostly good one.  I burned a few pieces.  Which, by the way, are kind of delicious in my opinion.  I enjoy most charred potatoes though, from overly cooked French fries to crusty scalloped potatoes scraped from the edge of the dish to dried out potato skins.

Tessa had her first piece of lefse.  I think she liked it. 

We also learned some shocking news on this day.  My brother...doesn'  Apparently he never has.  He's 27 years old.  It's like I don't even know him anymore.  It's kind of like when I found out my sister doesn't like ketchup in 2010.  Who doesn't like ketchup? 
When the potatoes were all rolled there were approximately 200 circles. 
That's not all of them either!

Mmmmmm...bland, plain lefse just waiting for some sugar! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tessa is 1

On Saturday the 15th Tessa had her first birthday.  All the usual things everyone says about their kids on their birthdays apply:  The year flew by, I can't believe how she has changed, life wouldn't be the same without her and she is getting her own personality that shows more every day.  I still feel like she's a little infant who needs a swaddle!
My cute little baby...
We didn't have any big parties or anything but I knew I wanted a cute photo opportunity so I made some snowflakes and a birthday hat and I found some metallic fabric on clearance to make a gold and snowflake theme. 
There are so many fun tutorials for making paper snowflakes on the Internets now!  I kind of got carried away because it was so fun trying different cuts.  That was, of course, after my first attempt which didn't turn out so well.
Haha nice, right?  It's a jaw bone!
We were at my parents' house on Saturday and my mom ordered an ice cream cake and said to do something with snowflakes.  We received this very basic cake with edible snowflake patterned paper around the outside and "Happy Birthday Tessa" printed on top.  But of course it still tasted good. 

The birthday hat was a bust and was never on her head for more than a few seconds at a time.  She pulled the headband that it was attached to off and then we tried to perch it on her head.  Too bad since I made it just for her!  Babies don't appreciate anything! 

Tessa got a new quilt for her birthday! 
She got a new doll that is her twin.
On Sunday we had a celebration with Justin's parents.  We tried again with the hat.

I got a few pictures of her eating cake this time.  The previous night she was too tired and delirious to have any and got busy playing with her presents (wrapping paper). 

For some reason she moved it from the bowl to the cup holder before eating.  She is silly.

Happy birthday baby girl! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

We Pulled It Off

About a month ago, back during the beautiful beginning of October days, the impossible happened.  My family had a photographer (my friend from college, Kari Kay Photography take our photo.  It actually happened and it wasn't someone's wedding or the every ten year St. John church directory update.  I can think of two non-wedding professioanal family pictures we have and in one we went to a studio in Columbia Mall that is long gone and my sister and I were wearing matching velvet and satin dresses that my mom sewed (circa 1992) and the other was for a church directory in 1998 and my sister has a bowl cut and my dad was wearing his gym clothes under his dress shirt because he was going to play Sunday afternoon basketball afterwards. 
This was my sister's idea back when my parents started building their new house.  Originally she thought it would be cute to have us all posing on my dad's bulldozer which would be aiming at the old house but they aren't quite to that point yet so we got it done before the weather turned too cold.  We wanted to commemorate the old house.  It was almost impossible to schedule but I'm glad we did it because it might not happen...well...ever again until one of the infants or toddlers in the picture gets married. What you will see below is just a sampling so as not to spoil any Christmas card plans although there is a viewing metrics feature on blogger so I have an idea of how many people look at this and it's a very small fraction of who will see any of our Christmas cards and the people might not be anyone I know they could be from random Google searches or the 31 day challenge so...

I like this one because my hair is flowing in the breeze...haha...

The perfect shot for our annual sisters Christmas card...haha JK.  That's not a thing.

My dad with his sprayer that he built.

My brother reliving his senior pictures with a very uncomfortable dog. 

This new house looks like the cleanest, most pristine structure ever compared to the paint peeling, old Christmas light wearing white house. 

Jake the streaking dog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Magne Takk!

Back in the days, the good old days of freedom, Justin and I would occasionally attend NDSU football games away from home.  We went to the University of Minnesota (three times), Montana State in Bozeman, various cities in South Dakota, Fort Collins, Colorado, and of course Frisco!  I missed all away games last year due to being eight and nine months pregnant and then having a baby for the whole season so I was delighted to head to Cedar Rapids, Iowa over the weekend for a game! 

Before we left we went to the farm for the last remaining day of harvest and Tessa went on her first combine ride.  It was after dark and she was mesmerized by the corn disappearing in front of her.  The picture is blurry but it was the best I could get with my phone. 

The field happened to be behind the house and when we were standing there waiting for the combine I was in awe of the beautiful scene with the full moon shining through the trees and the house all lit up.  The old house looked quite plain and windowless from the back so it is quite a sight to see a house lit up facing this way.  I wish my phone took a better picture. 

On Friday afternoon we met our friend who was coming with us, dropped of the babies, and headed toward Minnesota, where we were staying overnight, and then Iowa.  I even was able to shop at an outlet mall, which was a thrill. 

We arrived in Cedar Rapids on Saturday morning with hours ahead of us to tailgate.  It was disappointing to find that the weather was cold and windy just like it was when we left ND.  We were hoping it would be sixty degrees but it wasn't even close to that and the wind was as bad as ever.  We were there early so we claimed a spot in the parking lot in front of some folded up outdoor bleachers for the nearby practice fields and they made a good shelter and our spot ended up being a popular standing spot for those who didn't have a bus or trailer with them.  It was here, loitering around our spot, where I decided to read the back of the butterscotch Ice Hole schnapps bottle:

Did you catch that?  I was so delighted by this discovery.  I with I had thought to read the back of the bottle sooner.  I like to imagine this aunt named Maren, taking pulls of schnapps formulated just for her.  By the way, mange takk means "many thanks" in Norwegian. 

Here is one of the few pictures I took that day. 
On the way home we stopped at a specialty fishing and custom rod shop in Blaine called Thorne Brothers.  Justin and our friend Andy got their fix while I marveled at the diverse selection of fishing lures in the store.   

Can you imagine fishing with one of these at the end of your pole?

On Sunday when we were travelling there was talk of snow on the way everywhere we went.  It was mostly aimed for Southern Minnesota and we  missed it on the drive in ND but Bismarck was on the very edge so we had a few inches on Monday morning.  Ben was very excited and immediately wanted to play in the snow and build a snowman.  Actually, as I write this, he is standing at the door to the deck wanting to go outside.  We are in a polar vortex and it is 11 degrees outside.  I don't think so.  But yesterday I gave in and we were outside at 9:00 a.m.  It was a lovely 18 degrees.  Guess who didn't care that it was 18 degrees and could have stayed out there all morning.

After about twenty minutes I had to bring Tessa inside so I just watched him play from the sliding door.  He could have been out there for hours.  He is like this dog we used to have at the farm.  She was a golden retriever and she loved cold weather.  Whenever I hear animal loving people insist that animals need to be inside during the winter (and I agree that most do, or at least that they need a warm shelter like a barn or garage and animals like Allan, who have never been outside, certainly need to be kept out of the cold) I want to tell them about Penny the retriever.  That dog loved cold so much that she would sleep outside on snow banks when it was frigidly cold.  She had a doghouse with a heat lamp that was in a garage and still we would find her sleeping in her favorite spot on the snow piles from the tractor when it was -20 degrees outside.  I think she spent the night there. 
I finally lured Ben inside with a TV show when his face was bright red and appeared to be freezing.  I enjoy outdoor snow play but I hope there are some warmer (20-30 degree) days ahead so it can be more enjoyable.